As my boyfriend and I turned off the road from Madaba to the Dead Sea, I had a sense of déjà vu. Winding down the steep switchbacks that took us from 100 meters above sea level to 260 meters below, I thought back to my last visit to the Evason Ma’in Resort in Jordan.
It was last October, and it was hot. We drove up from Petra for two nights at the newly opened resort and Six Senses Spa, which were situated in a deep ravine in front of piping hot waterfalls and an emerald green river. Our two night stay went well, but there were a few hiccups in the service, including an extra charge on our bill. We called this to the manager’s attention in an email we sent after our return to London.
A few weeks later, we received a response from the manager. He apologized for the service and invited us back for a complimentary weekend stay to compensate us. We booked our flights immediately.
On Friday night we were driving back down into the canyon, excited for a second go at the beautiful waterfall-filled paradise. The heat had been replaced by a much more pleasant warmth, but unfortunately the head cold that plagued me on my last visit had made an unwelcome reprise. As my ears popped their way down the side of the chasm, I looked forward to a relaxing weekend at the resort.
Relaxing it wasn’t, but enjoyable it was. Not wanting to waste a precious minute, we stayed up late the first night munching on delicious meze at Brown Bar. The chef at the Evason Ma’in has worked all over the world, and cooked up an amazing array of small plates ranging from falafel to parma ham crostini.
The next morning we ate breakfast on the terrace overlooking the waterfalls. It was a nice change from October, when the flies were too plentiful to eat daytime meals outdoors.
We followed breakfast by a short stint at the pool, then headed out with a guide to hike down the river to the Dead Sea. The four kilometer trail sounded fun and easy, and we didn’t take the advice we were given to ditch our flip flops for hiking shoes (not that we brought any anyway).
We should have taken the advice. Two weeks prior to our arrival, the annual torrential rains in Jordan had flooded the river bed and washed out most of the trail. They had yet to re-blaze it, so we were the first to witness the erosion of the cliff walls and the shifts in the river’s trajectory.
As soon as we got to the river, we had to cross it. Our feet plunged into the emerald green water, which was scalding hot. My boyfriend’s flip flop immediately broke, and the guide insisted on lending him his shoes for the remainder of the hike.
With that as a precedent, we didn’t get far. Climbing over huge boulders, wading thigh-deep through the hot green river, trekking through freezing cold mud, under blue-green stalactites in riverside caves, and over loose rocky soil, we only managed to cover half a kilometer in an hour. The prospect of going all the way to the sea felt a bit daunting.
We turned back around and hiked to the Six Senses spa in Ma’in, where a golf cart took our feeble selves back up the hill to the resort. We recovered with a late lunch by the pool, then walked around the gardens until it was time for the afternoon wine tasting the manager had arranged for us.
The tasting was done in the resort’s cellar, a beautiful glass-walled room lined with bottles from all over the world. In the middle of the room sat a huge table with various cheeses, olives, and flatbreads. Jumat, the sommelier, poured us Jordanian wines and Argentine Malbecs while he entertained us with stories from his travels all over the world.
For dinner that night we headed back to the Brown Bar, but sat outside this time. We shared more falafel and lamb sausages, and followed dinner with a long evening of sheesha, or “hubbly-bubbly” as they call it in Jordan.
The next morning we took a quick dip in the beautiful waterfall pool at the Six Senses Spa, then packed our bags for the long drive north to the Roman ruins in Jerash.
As we wove our way up the steep switchbacks and out of the Ma’in canyon, we were thankful for the opportunity to return for a complimentary weekend and for the staff’s willingness to go out of their way to make us feel welcome. The service had improved from our first stay, and we were glad for the chance to witness the changes first-hand.